Illinois leaders call on working people to step up
By CARL GREEN
Workers must turn out on Nov. 6 and vote for the candidates who support working families if they want to see the Labor Movement survive, Metro-East Labor leaders say.
Totsie Bailey, executive financial secretary of the Southwestern Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council said the alternative will be a dire for unions, and the families that depend on them.
Bailey said President Trump, despite claiming to support working people, has shown himself to be as strongly anti-Labor as any other Republican in Washington.
“I don’t want to beat up on everybody, but we’ve got to win this election,” Bailey told the Council at its October meeting. “If we don’t get three seats in the Senate and we don’t take the House back, we won’t have any checks on Trump.”
‘IT’S GOING TO BE A FIGHT’
Nick Dodson, vice president of the Southwestern Illinois Central Labor Council heard the same message.
Dodson is the past president of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 360 and serves as a United Way Labor liaison.
“Even if we get lucky and we do good in this election, we’re not going to escape,” Dodson said. “Every single election, from now on, is going to be it. Because they’re coming after us, and they’re willing to spend whatever it takes to knock us out. And the only thing we can do is to get ourselves off our lazy butts and get busy and fight. And it’s going to be a fight!”
‘ANYTHING THEY CAN
TO SHUT US DOWN’
Bailey noted a set of executive orders Trump signed in May that restricted the activities of unions representing 2.1 million federal employees. The orders limited the time union leaders can spend on union business, forced unions to pay for space in federal buildings and required more aggressive negotiation of union contracts – amounting to national right-to-work, he said.
“They will do anything they can to shut us down,” Bailey said. “We’re the only thing that stands in their way – on anything. If we don’t do something on Nov. 6, well, I’m just scared to death. And if Trump gets back in 2020, you're seeing the beginning of the end of Organized Labor.”
B. Dean Webb, president of the Madison County Federation of Labor implored all of Labor to keep pushing through Election Day.
“It’s getting close,” Webb said. “We need to get out there and work – going on Labor walks, working the phone banks. There’s plenty to do. We cannot let this get away from us. We’ve just got to work.”
OPPORTUNITY IN THE 12TH
James Thompson, a Labor Council vice president and member of the East St. Louis Federation of Teachers Local 1220, said 12th District Congressional candidate Brendan Kelly (D-Swansea) represents one of Labor’s best opportunities to take back a seat now held by an anti-Labor Republican – incumbent Mike Bost.
More than 600 people turned out at a get-out-the-vote rally Oct. 16 at New Life Community Church in East St. Louis to hear civil rights leader and Georgia Congressman John Lewis speak in support of Kelly for Congress and Kwame Raoul for Illinois state attorney general.
“It was a capacity crowd,” Thompson said. “And John Lewis was himself – he was dynamite. He endorsed Brendan Kelly. And so did Kwame. They talked about where we came from and where we’ll go back to – if we don’t vote. Voting is the issue in all conversations now.”
Thompson said Kelly, the St. Clair County state’s attorney, will need a dominant vote in the Metro-East to overcome Bost’s advantage in the district’s rural, southern counties that include Bost’s home town of Murphysboro.
“He’s a well-liked guy – a religious guy – and he’s got a lot of things going for him,” Thompson said. “But he’s a Republican, and he follows the Republican agenda, and that agenda is not good for working people. And the longer he stays in office, the more difficult it’s going to be to get him out.”
‘GOVERNOR HAS GOT TO GO’
Statewide, Thompson said state requirements imposed under Governor Bruce Rauner have become difficult for the school district to meet. He said the solution begins on Election Day.
“Look hard at the state Legislature,” Thompson said. “Those are the people who make the rules. Look hard at the race for governor, because he appoints the State Board of Education. We’ve got to be mindful of these things – these are the people who can hurt you.
“We need to get a new governor,” he added. “This governor has got to go. If he gets back in, I don’t know where we’re going to be.”
NOT TOO LATE TO
REGISTER TO VOTE
Illinois union members and their family and friends who aren’t registered to vote can still can do in person through Election Day at their county clerk’s office and vote at the same time. For more information, visit the Illinois State Board of Elections website at election.il.gov.